I’ve been fuming for several years about the massive increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma, where I grew up. The USGS has tied the quakes directly to fracking’s disposal wells. My sister lives in Edmond, just north of Oklahoma City, and says they have quakes every day. My other sister lives a bit farther south, in north OKC, and she both felt and heard a big quake there just this week.
To those of you living in other parts of the country, this may not seem notable. But I’m incensed. I lived in Oklahoma City almost all my life, more than 55 years, and another 10 years in Edmond. And in all that time I felt only one earthquake. One! It was back in the 1950s when I was in grade school. (And yes, I realize there are many tiny quakes recorded by seismographs that are not felt by people on the surface.)
To add a different perspective: In 2015 Oklahoma had three times more quakes of magnitude 3 or greater than California — almost 600. This year it’s on track for 800.
Last year, after much foot dragging and opposition from the energy industry (Oklahoma’s largest), the Oklahoma Corporation Commission finally took some action, requiring them to reduce their wastewater injection volumes. It’s a wonder anything at all was done, considering the amount of money and influence being applied by the oil and gas industries and their wealthy investors.
I didn’t think I could get much angrier about the situation, short of owning a home in Oklahoma that was being damaged by the quakes. But I just read that in the wake of the USGS report and the state’s actions, leaders with the Oklahoma Insurance Department are urging residents to buy earthquake insurance!
What a racket. Take your profits by drilling disposal wells that cause countless earthquakes and quake damage. Then step up and urge residents to buy insurance against it. The residents should be suing instead.
Reminds me of the pharmaceutical companies dreaming up new “conditions” that their latest drugs can treat.
Earthquaketrack.com tracks quakes across the country using USGS data and this is one of their maps from Oklahoma this week:
And they include cheerful statistics like these:
Oklahoma City has had: (M1.5 or greater)
- 4 earthquakes today
- 15 earthquakes in the past 7 days
- 42 earthquakes in the past month
- 846 earthquakes in the past year
The largest earthquake in Oklahoma:
From News Channel 4 in Oklahoma City:
The most significant hazards from induced seismicity are in six states, listed in order from highest to lowest potential hazard: Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas.
And you’d better believe the energy industry in Colorado is hard at work on this. There’s a fight going on in my city right now trying to stop the drilling of a new well within the city limits. That certainly will put me within quake range if it comes to that. Meanwhile, a bill to regulate fracking more closely (make the drillers responsible for damage, including quake damage) failed to get through Colorado’s legislature. And I can’t turn on the TV without seeing some commercial from the energy people telling me what good, environmentally conscious fellow Coloradans they are and how I’d be denying them their livelihoods if I opposed their fracking.
The only ray of hope in all this is that the price of oil is down and there likely won’t be a whole lot of new wells being drilled. For a while, at least.
*Quakes, of course, are but one of the issues with fracking.